Mojo - September 2007

Russia Explodes 'Father of All Bombs'

| Wed Sep. 12, 2007 12:19 PM EDT

According to news reports (here and here), the Russian military has successfully tested what it hails as the world's most destructive non-nuclear bomb. The device—unofficially named the 'Father of All Bombs,' an apparent play on a similar U.S. device nicknamed the 'Mother of All Bombs'—relies on an initial explosion to disperse a cloud of explosive material that is then ignited by a secondary blast. The weapon contains 7.8 tons of high explosives, compared with more than 8 tons in its U.S. counterpart. But its explosive power is equal to 44 tons of TNT, about four times more powerful than America's MOAB. The BBC says the differential is due to "a new type of explosives developed with the use of nanotechnology."

General Alexander Rukshin, Russia's deputy armed forces chief of staff, described the new bomb as "relatively cheap" and effective, with explosive power "commensurate with a nuclear weapon." He went on to say the new bomb would allow Russia's military to "protect the nation's security and confront international terrorism in any situation in any region."

Sure, if there's one thing we've learned from Iraq, it's that the best way to dispose of a guy hiding in a roadside shack with his finger on an IED detonator is to blow up his entire city.

Best of all, though, Rukshin pointed out that fuel-air bombs don't emit radiation and therefore are environmentally friendly.

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Joe Lieberman is Now Almost Comically Hawkish

| Wed Sep. 12, 2007 11:30 AM EDT

Lieberman to Petraeus: Isn't it time to give you authority to invade Iran?

Petraeus to Lieberman: Uh, no.

Just watch below.

(H/T TPM)

New Opinion Poll: Pakistan Loves Osama, Hates Musharraf and Bush

| Wed Sep. 12, 2007 10:57 AM EDT

According to a new public opinion poll of Pakistani citizens, Osama bin Laden has a higher approval rating in Pakistan, 46 percent, than does Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, 38 percent.

This is potentially disastrous because Pakistan is home to two things: (1) nuclear weapons, (2) al Qaeda's leadership. If Indonesia or Libya held widespread popular support for bin Laden, it wouldn't be nearly as big a deal.

All I can say is, it's a good thing America is seen as a force for good in the world, a force willing to use positive incentives and diplomacy to reassure the Pakistani people that the extreme ideology of Osama bin Laden is a road to ruin, and that embracing the fragile democracy headed by Musharraf may someday lead them to become the strong and vibrant participatory society we are ourselves.

Oh wait. That's not right at all. And President Bush's approval rating in Pakistan, in the same public opinion poll, is nine percent. Nine percent! We've screwed things up so badly across the world, we don't have the cache to fix our most dire problems.

Iraq War Making the U.S. Safer? Of Course Not

| Wed Sep. 12, 2007 10:34 AM EDT

So General Petraeus says he doesn't know if the war in Iraq is making the United States safer. We can answer that for him: it isn't. Not by a long shot. Here's the proof.

Update: Ah, the inevitable backtrack.

Lying Former Prostitute Passes Lie Detector Test

| Tue Sep. 11, 2007 11:49 PM EDT

When former prostitute Wendy Yow Ellis claimed that she and Louisiana Congressman David Vitter had had a sexual relationship lasting several months, he accused her of lying. Vitter's name had already been disclosed as part of the client list of the now-famous "DC Madam," and the also now-famous "Canal Street Madam" had named him as one of her establishment's clients, also. At the time that she named Vitter, she said he liked to visit a prostitute named Wendy; however, Ellis claims that she had nothing to do with the Canal Street operation, that her negotiations with Vitter took place in a French Quarter apartment via the New Orleans Escort Service, and she was paid $300 an hour through a pimp named Jonathan.

It is not known whether there was actually another Wendy who worked at the Canal Street establishment (as implied by Canal Street Madam Jeanette Maier) who had sex with Vitter. So far, only Wendy Yow Ellis, sometimes known as Wendy Cortez, has come forward. This rather confusing scenario involving Wendys is complicated even more by the fact that Vitter's wife is named Wendy, also.

At any rate, publisher Larry Flynt paid for Wendy Yow Ellis to take a lie detector test, which she passed, and which Vitter's press secretary has refused to comment on. Flynt has also paid Ellis for details about her sessions with Vitter, which he is publishing in a future issue of Hustler.

Vitter, of course, ran for office with a promise of "protecting the sanctity of marriage." Ellis, who describes Vitter as "a very clean man," says she took the polygraph because people who heard Vitter's denial of their relationship might see her as "a two-bit whore when I'm the one telling the truth."

Powell at 70, No Longer Waking Up Screaming

| Tue Sep. 11, 2007 10:01 PM EDT

In a rather frank interview with GQ, former secretary of state Colin Powell discusses the Iraq War, Barack Obama, and the ways in which fear is getting the better of us as a nation.

When asked how America might go about restoring its image, he responded:

"We should remember what that image was, back after World War II. It was the image of a generous country that sought not to impose its will on other countries or even to impose its values. But it showed the way, and it helped other countries, and it opened its doors to people, visitors and refugees and immigrants.

America could not survive without immigration. Even the undocumented immigrants are contributing to our economy. That's the country my parents came to. That's the image we have to portray to the rest of the world: kind, generous, a nation of nations, touched by every nation, and we touch every nation in return. That's what people still want to believe about us. They still want to come here. We've lost a bit of the image, but we haven't lost the reality yet. And we can fix the image by reflecting a welcoming attitude, and by not taking counsel of our fears and scaring ourselves to death that everybody coming in is going to blow up something. It ain't the case."

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One Special Dame: Remembering Anita Roddick

| Tue Sep. 11, 2007 5:49 PM EDT

I first met Anita Roddick at a meeting of the Social Venture Network in the fall of 1991. I say "met," more accurately: I encountered a human thrill ride. I was a newbie at that early gathering of progressive-minded entrepreneurs and, progressive though they were, they were also clubby, and the skepticism about whether nonprofit (and "radical!") Mother Jones belonged in this business club was palpable. I girded myself for some power networking.

Anita, unquestionably the queen of the social venture movement, was standing behind a little table for The Body Shop at the "Product Expo," and I approached to introduce myself. I was still several steps away when she spotted Mother Jones on my name tag and pounced. "Mother Jones! That's the most bloody brilliant magazine!! It's an inspiration! Tell me what you're doing here."

Profane charm, infectious enthusiasm, straight to the heart—in a few seconds Anita had given the new kid on the block instant credibility. It was just the beginning of her generosity to me and to Mother Jones. Anita's wear-it-on-her-sleeve enthusiasm was one part of her effectiveness as a businesswoman and activist—it was hard to resist her energy, not that it would be smart to try.

Her commitment to the causes she cared about ran deep, and a few years and several rollicking collaborations later, she joined the board of Mother Jones' nonprofit parent. There are lots of stories from her years as part of the Mother Jones famly, and in the next few days, I'll share some as part of our tribute to her. Anita's (and husband Gordon's) generosity, connections, and business smarts have helped MoJo through more ups and downs than the Cyclone. In that, we're not alone—today there are dozens of causes acknowledging the significance of the Roddicks' support—but we owe her a special debt. And we intend to pay it back in the only way that she would care about—with "bloody-brilliant," kick-ass journalism.

Jay Harris
President & Publisher

Gay Rights: Not Important Enough for the American Edition of Newsweek

| Tue Sep. 11, 2007 4:33 PM EDT

I love comparing what goes in the American editions of the newsweeklies to what goes in the international editions.

In the American edition of Newsweek this week, there is a Hillary Clinton cover story described thusly on TAPPED: "This piece is a long, tepid regurgitation of Clinton's career with little new insight."

On the cover of the international edition, a story called "Legal in Unlikely Places: Now mature in the west, gay power is growing worldwide, even in the land of machismo." The story isn't in the American edition at all.

I'll let TAPPED provide the final analysis:

Seems that both social and legal acceptance of homosexuality is rapidly increasing in some unexpected parts of the world. South Africa legalized civil unions in November 2006, making them the first developing nation to do so, and former Catholic strongholds like Latin America are also warming to civil unions. They've been legalized in Mexico City and Buenos Aires, and in Colombia, a bill is working its way through the National Congress that would grant full rights to health insurance, inheritance and social-security benefits to gay and lesbian couples.
Money quote: "The Catholic Church was facing a credibility crisis," says [a] longtime Mexico City-based gay-rights activist... "So many of its leaders... knew that if they fiercely opposed the gay-union law, the news media would eat them alive."
Unlike in the U.S., where ... this article doesn't even appear in Newsweek.

Scientific Proof That Liberals Are Not Smarter

| Tue Sep. 11, 2007 4:46 AM EDT

MoveOn.org seems to remove its contact details after running one of the most idiotic ads in recent political history.

Scientific Proof That Liberals Are Smarter

| Tue Sep. 11, 2007 3:33 AM EDT

Ok, so not proof exactly, but man we are really smart. And I'm not talking about knowing geography or spelling or history. I'm talking about the alphabet. We know it, while conservatives are apparently blinded by ideology. In certain situations their rigid brains cannot distinguish among different letters of the alphabet, a major study has found, and this explains why they can't tolerate ambiguity and conflict as well as liberals.

"Political orientation is related to how the brain processes information," reports the UCLA and NYU study, as detailed in the LA Times:

Participants were college students whose politics ranged from "very liberal" to "very conservative. They were instructed to tap a keyboard when an M appeared on a computer monitor and to refrain from tapping when they saw a W.

M appeared four times more frequently than W, conditioning participants to press a key in knee-jerk fashion whenever they saw a letter.

And conservatives were by far the worst knee-jerkers, routinely mistaking a W for an M, or vice versa when the weightings were changed. This has happened before. Mole hill or WMD? Morass or winnable? Melting ice or wacko science? In all seriousness, Frank J. Sulloway, a researcher at UC Berkeley's Institute of Personality and Social Research, told the Times that the results could explain why Bush demonstrated a single-minded commitment to the Iraq War and why "liberals could be expected to more readily accept new social, scientific or religious ideas."

This study is by no means the first to suggest that one political persuasion or another is more fit for duty in the battle of ideas. A few years ago I wrote about a University of Texas study that found residents of Houston suffer from a quasi-clinical condition known as "war fever." But this newest study at least takes the political debate back to the ABCs. Now if only conservatives could go back to kindergarten. . .